Aborted Article Causes Stir

Story Critical of IBM Cut from Harvard Business Review

Controversy has surrounded a last-minute decision at the Harvard Business Review to withhold its lead story for the January/February issue.

An article critical of IBM was cancelled by the Review because of its controversial content, according to the story's author.

But T. George Harris, editor of the Harvard Business Review, disputed the allegation that the story had been canceled.

He said the article's publication was postponed for editorial reasons.

"The article itself had never been canceled," Harris said yesterday. "I couldn't publish it immediately because I had more edits on it."


Mark Stahlman, the author of the article, said that the decision to pull the story with no definite plans for publication amounted to a cancellation.

"To the best of my knowledge there are no plans to ever run the article or a derivative of the article in the [Review]," said Stahlman, who is president of New Media Associates, a media and financial services company in New York City.

"If there is any difference between an open-ended, indefinite postponement and cancellation, it is lost on me," Stahlman said.

Stahlman said that the article's forceful criticism of management in the computer industry may have influenced the decision to withhold it from the Review.

"The article is highly critical of the management of IBM. It is unusual for an article to appear in the [Review] that adopts that critical tone," Stahlman said.

Harris said his last-minute decision to hold the article was not in response to pressure on this issue.

"I'm not editing this magazine for or against IBM. I'm editing it for things that give us new information on management," Harris said.

Harris said that the core issue in the article was not the criticism of IBM but a discussion of four different parts of the computer industry.

Stahlman agreed that the computer giant was not responsible for the decision. "I do not believe IBM played any direct role in having the story canceled," said Stahlman.

IBM spokesperson David F. Harrah also said the company had no reason to try to prevent publication of the article.